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US judge extends order halting Texas fetal remains regulation

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A federal judge on Wednesday extended until Jan. 27 a restraining order that halted a new Texas regulation requiring fetal tissue remains to be buried or cremated to allow for more time to make a ruling.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued the ruling after hearing two days of testimony this week on the regulation that Texas contends is aimed at maintaining the highest standards of human dignity. Abortion rights groups contend it is an unnecessary and vague regulation aimed at making abortions more arduous and expensive.

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Sparks last month put the regulation on hold before it was to take effect on Dec. 19. He had previously issued a temporary restraining order to delay enactment until at least Jan. 6.

Sparks asked the state how the existing law on the disposal of human remains and dead human bodies would mesh with the proposed regulation and was told by a lawyer for the state that fetal tissue is not considered human remains for the purpose of the statute.

“Texas values the dignity of the remains of the unborn and believes that fetal tissue should be disposed of properly and humanely,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement. He said he is confident the state will prevail.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, a plaintiff in the case and president of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs three facilities in Texas, testified that she believes the regulation would increase costs and could increase the stigma of an abortion.

“I don’t understand how this puts women’s health and safety forward,” she said in court.

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The Texas limitations would be more stringent than regulations in almost every other state, which allow aborted fetal tissue to be disposed of the same as other human tissue, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.

The regulation change in Texas was crafted shortly after the state suffered a stinging defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court last year when the justices struck down separate abortion restrictions backed by the state’s Republican leaders.

Writing for the court, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the measures imposing strict regulations on doctors and facilities constituted an undue burden on abortion access and violated the U.S. Constitution.

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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler)


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Nicolle Wallace tells Colbert why she cursed at Fox News host Laura Ingraham — and that she left the GOP

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace appeared on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" Wednesday after spending hours analyzing the impeachment hearings that began that morning.

One of the first things Colbert asked about was the recent smackdown from Wallace about Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests going after Col. Alexander Vindman. Ingraham proposed that because Vindman was born in Ukraine that he was somehow a traitor to the United States for coming forward about President Donald Trump's admitted crimes.

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‘It takes a small mind to want to out a whistleblower’: Rachel Maddow blasts Trump and GOP

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In an analysis of the first day of impeachment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained to late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon why the impeachment hearings were a lot more rational than she anticipated.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) switched committees just to appear and ask questions and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) humiliated himself, but aside from that, Maddow said she was surprised there were reasonable questions, and everyone remained calm.

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Seth Meyers mocks Devin Nunes saying Dems wanted to find nude photos of Trump: ‘Literally no one wants that’

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"Late Night" host Seth Meyers ridiculed Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) for his absurd line of questioning that accused Democrats of the impeachment is the same as the Russia scandal.

Nunes said that Democrats want the world to forget about their efforts to obtain nude photos of Trump, something Meyers countered with actual sense.

"Hey man, I guarantee you no one wants nude pictures of Donald Trump," Meyers said. "I'm not crazy about clothed pictures of Donald Trump. Also, I have to believe that if there were nude pictures of Donald Trump, the first person to show them would be Donald Trump. He'd probably hold a press conference with a giant poster board."

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